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Is the Torah a Work of Philosophy?

As the latest attempt to draw universal ethical principles from the Bible shows, philosophical investigation of its text offers the prospect of great rewards—and grave dangers.

An illustration from a 1299 manuscript of the Hebrew Bible by Joseph Assarfati of Cervera, Spain. DeAgostini/Getty Images.

An illustration from a 1299 manuscript of the Hebrew Bible by Joseph Assarfati of Cervera, Spain. DeAgostini/Getty Images.

Essay
Jan. 3 2017
About the author

Jon D. Levenson is the Albert A. List professor of Jewish Studies at Harvard University and the author, most recently, of The Love of God: Divine Gift, Human Gratitude, and Mutual Faithfulness in Judaism (Library of Jewish Ideas; Princeton University Press).


As the latest attempt to draw universal ethical principles from the Bible shows, philosophical investigation of its text offers the prospect of great rewards—and grave dangers.

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More about: Hebrew Bible, History & Ideas, Immanuel Kant, Maimonides, Philosophy, Religion & Holidays, Torah